In discussions about the deteriorating infrastructure of the world – such as highways, bridges, waterways, etc. – pundits suggest that there are two factors that bring about change: calamity, such as the collapse of an overpass, or the explosion of a gas pipe which compels people to finally act; and money, i.e. having the resources in the first place to solve the problem.
It is an unconscious society that waits for disaster to strike before acting. It is a poor one, or a strained one that concerns itself with having the resources – i.e. the money – to resolve the problem. Of course, these are both inadequate approaches to progress. What brings about the solutions to such problems is in fact our will to do so. Will, or intention, or aspiration to improve things, and the ability to collectively exercise it is the solution to any problem – infrastructure or otherwise. Marshalling will -- from the individual up to the widest collective, including large companies and national governments -- is the key to solving such problems.
The influence and power of human will to move life, rather than focusing our supposed lack of resources, is largely missing in today’s debates regarding improvement in society. Consider the experience of China. For a hundred years or more, she was destitute. Then in the 1970s and 80s she changed direction. It happened not only at the level of the government, but at the level of the community and the individual as well. The deep aspirations of that society that were blocked for hundreds of years were let loose, releasing a tidal wave of energy at all levels. Several decades later, China was evolving into an economic colossus – perhaps the greatest material reversal in world history. There were few resources, hardly any money available to begin with – and yet a vast will for change occurred, driving the society to infinite-like accomplishment. A Himalayan change was underway through the power of human will that in turn produced infinite-like resources in that society. All other factors were secondary.
The question for societies is how to release the will of the people at all levels, from the individual to the collective in order to solve its ills and to expand its capacities – economic through cultural -- to the next highest level. We know that will comes from aspiration. If that is so, then how does one instill an aspiration for a thing to be accomplished. It is different in every case. In China, it began at the top, having a clear perception that the individual was being held back; that life could not go on the way it had. We could also say that the aspiration began amongst the people, who were fed up with the past, forcing the government to move in a new direction.
In every situation, the key will be the dynamic that releases the aspiration of various segments, and how to then link ever-widening segments to release a vast integral will that becomes a torrent of energy that moves the society forward. How governments and community leaders release that aspiration, and how individuals themselves develop their own aspiration, requires an examination of individual and collective motivation. We could call it the “psychology of aspiration”.
If energy to move forward comes from will, and will comes from aspiration, then aspiration is a product of individual and collective values. The values available to society are endless. It can take form as a deep belief in more security, greater prosperity, more freedom, more openness and tolerance, sincerity and honesty in government, a focus on the dispossessed, or on culture, or any of a thousand things. Out of these physical, vital, and mental values, spring forth our individual and collective aspirations.
And yet values in themselves are just beliefs. They don’t have power of effectuating, unless they are spearheaded through a plan of action. For that to happen, there needs to be a mechanism or process to bring it about. That process that enables values and aspirations to become living realities in society is the process of creation and accomplishment.
That process begins with a vision we have for something to come about – whether it is an objective goal like increasing GDP by 2% or doubling our personal income; or a subjective one, like the values of honesty and integrity, or increasing the frankness of government. That in turn releases the will for its creation. This overall aspiration is then organized into practical strategies for their accomplishment, which is then carried out in a timely manner through a persevering effort, our highest skills, and the most positive of attitudes. The end result is that we release a titanic concentration of energy that tends to quickly attract the object of our individual and collective desire. By organizing our motives, values and aspirations this way, we can accomplish in 5 years what it would normally have taken 50 --- just as we see in China.
An individual, collective, or society that is conscious is one that perceives its values, makes them instrument for aspirations for change, and follows the process to quickly convert its energies into living realities. By perceiving and utilizing the process, we no longer have to wait for disasters to strike before taking action; nor do we need to wait for resources to be available before springing into action. A conscious society knows that its will and the energy released, is the ultimate determinant of its success. All other factors are secondary.
The ancient Indian texts known as the Upanishads declare, “You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.”
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